7
The Horror

After conquering Persia's armies, Alexander spent years chasing the elusive Darius III and appointing bureaucrats to administer the new empire. We are not told what became of all fifteen elephants from Gaugamela, nor the twelve surrendered by a nearby Iraqi city. There is a story told by the ancient historian Pliny that tells the sad fate of one:

When Alexander the Great was on his way to India, the king of Albania had
presented him with one dog of unusually large size…"Alexander" ordered an
elephant to be brought in, and no other show ever gave him more delight: for the
dog's hair bristled all over his body and it first gave a vast thunderous bark, then
kept leaping up and rearing against the creature's limbs on this side and that, in
scientific combat, attacking and retiring at the most necessary points, until the
elephant turning round and round in an unceasing whirl was brought to the
ground with an earth-shaking crash.1

Alexander and his associates enjoyed the same style of entertainment that would enthrall the Romans in future spectacles.

Still hungry for glory, Alexander mobilized his army for a march to India in the spring of 327 BC.2 The Macedonians pushed across northern Iran and then south through Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Alexander approached India, King Omphis surrendered his city, Taxila, near modern Islamabad.3 Elephants were still a native species in this fertile region between the Indus and the Hydaspes Rivers.

When the Greek army arrived at the Hydaspes River of India in May or June of 326 BC, a tall king named Porus was waiting with his army. Porus offered to pay the Macedonians to leave his land unharmed. Alexander did not want money, but conquest, and refused.

Although the armies of Porus and Alexander were similar in number, Porus had two hundred colorful pachyderms lined up along the river's edge. Before weddings and wars, Indian mahouts paint bright colors and geometric shapes on the elephant's head and trunk. By grinding mineral

-31-

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War Elephants
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1: Useful Orphan 1
  • 2: Early Contests 7
  • 3: Beauty and the Beasts 14
  • 4: Fill of Blood 19
  • 5: Improvements 21
  • 6: The Elephant Mystery 25
  • 7: The Horror 31
  • 8: Alexander's Opinion 38
  • 9: Death on the Nile 42
  • 10: Elephants Marching 47
  • 11: Siege 54
  • 12: Cavalry Killers 58
  • 13: The Elephant Industry 68
  • 14: Unmitigated Gauls 75
  • 15: The Elephant of Surprise 80
  • 16: Flaming Pigs 87
  • 17: Chaos in the Streets 93
  • 18: War Elephants of Carthage 97
  • 19: Proud Mahouts 101
  • 20: Cruelty and Inhumanity 104
  • 21: The Lion's Brood 107
  • 22: Dangerous Waters 110
  • 23: Treacherous Paths 115
  • 24: The Best Laid Plans 119
  • 25: Stalemate 123
  • 26: Hasdrubal 126
  • 27: Rome's Genius 130
  • 28: Africa Versus Asia 135
  • 29: Day of Slaughter 141
  • 30: Weapons of Massive Destruction 146
  • 31: Guerrilla War 151
  • 32: The Running of the Bulls 156
  • 33: Pompey's Circus 159
  • 34: The Herd of Julius Caesar 161
  • 35: Arrogant Emperors 167
  • 36: Sackcloth, Ashes, and Prayer 170
  • 37: Breach of Faith 174
  • 38: The Year of the Elephant 177
  • 39: Early and Medieval Asia 181
  • 40: Charlemagne and Frederick 187
  • 41: Plump and Ready 191
  • 42: Mongol Hordes 197
  • 43: Pyramids of Skulls 202
  • 44: Thais, Burmese, Khmers, and Others 206
  • 45: The Great Mahout 210
  • 46: Beasts of Burden 220
  • 47: Mighty Engineers 225
  • 48: Targets of Opportunity 230
  • Index 315
  • About the Author 335
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